At times this season, the Warriors are a little boring. They’re winning, but they’re not relying on the theatrics or fireworks in seasons past. Against many of their lesser opponents, the Dubs seem to coast before finally turning up the heat in seemingly perfunctory wins.
Against the Miami Heat today, the Warriors suffered from lethargy from the start. Without Klay Thompson, who had the game off due to rest, the Warriors struggled to hit threes and find cohesive offense. Moreover, the Heat easily found points in the paint, with Hassan Whiteside especially racking up buckets and boards down low. The Warriors trailed for much of the first quarter, and were down one point at the half.
In the second half, the Warriors put together a solid defensive performance, only allowing 14 points in the third quarter, putting together a decent lead. They were able to maintain it until the end of the game, only sealing the victory in the final minutes. There weren’t any fireworks and few highlights, but the Warriors played good basketball when it mattered today.
Offensively, the Warriors struggled to find scoring sometimes today. Both Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant played well at times, but neither showed dominance today. Draymond Green pitched in a cool 13-9-5 line, and Ian Clark scored ten points off the bench.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Warriors improved over the course of the game. Their inability to defend huge big men reared its head tonight, but Zaza Pachulia and Draymond Green were able to stymie Whiteside’s scoring later on. There is a noticeable gap between the Warriors are truly trying on defense and when they are not as focused.
Rookie Patrick McCaw, in his first NBA start, did not play well: he had a few dumb fouls, struggled to fit in to the offense, and looked too thin at times to deal with NBA physicality. He was the only Warrior with a negative plus-minus other than James Michael McAdoo, who played less than a minute. With Ian Clark’s emergence as a reliable shooter in the backcourt, it’s likely McCaw does not crack the playoff rotation going forwards.
No longer are the Warriors driven to blow out weaker opponents. They aren’t chasing 73 wins like last year. They trust that they’ll find the win somehow, and they usually do. As fans, it can be disappointing that we don’t get the opportunity to learn something new from each game or even just revel in an offensive explosion. They’ll reserve their energy for the top teams (next week, they have both the Rockets and the Cavaliers), and coast as much as possible until the All-Star break. The team probably even prefers to not be front page news every day.
But on nights where both the Spurs and Cavaliers lose, this type of unmemorable win will do.